Time for a Germination Check

Some areas have had canola seeded for almost two weeks now. You may question the viability of the seed, especially under recent growing conditions. Even if surface emergence is not apparent, scrape back the soil and find the seeds. The condition of the seeds can help determine the state of germination/emergence. Hard seeds are probably an indication that conditions have been too dry and/or cold to facilitate germination. Unless most of the seeds are soft and seed decay is taking place, additional moisture and/or warmer temperatures may be all that is needed to correct the problem.

If the seed coat is cracked, note the structure of the developing seedling. Seedling turgidity is a function of the emerging hypocotyl remaining rigid and having enough moisture to push through the soil surface. The healthy emerging hypocotyl will be firm and white in colour. If moisture in the seeding zone runs out during emergence, the hypocotyl will dry out and discolour, often turning brown and wilted. This phenomenon is common in areas where soil surface moisture has dried out due to wind or lack of rainfall. The result is patchy emergence. It is often misdiagnosed as a seedling disease complex such as damping off. Cool, dry soil conditions are often the main culprit for poor emergence due to lack of seedling turgidity.